How edtech can help independent schools deliver immersive, collaborative lessons

James Chu, chairman and CEO of ViewSonic, says independent schools can use edtech to deliver non-traditional courses and allow more collaboration between schools

Education and public health continue to find themselves at a crossroads as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This change has led to the rapid evolution of traditional teaching methods to more interactive, two-way communication as the demand for digitalisation in education has skyrocketed.

Much like work from home arrangements, digital education transformation had been an ongoing process for the past few years until the pandemic struck, and the adoption of remote teaching exploded almost overnight. Many educators had to turn to remote teaching to continue classes, yet they still faced many challenges.

Digital transformation in education brings with it various challenges due to a lack of resources. Even if schools implement new edtech solutions, there’s a distinct lack of support and training for teachers in new classroom technology.

Additionally, a shortage of digital teaching materials means that teachers must develop a digital curriculum by themselves. However, the right edtech solution could help independent schools deliver immersive, forward-thinking lessons to students and even increase the school’s competitiveness by standing out to parents – an important challenge for independent schools.

Cross-school as a solution

Remote teaching has been adopted by schools so that students and teachers could continue to hold classes despite lockdown measures. Some schools caught on to the fact that adopting edtech not only gave them the ability to continue to provide effective learning, but they could also collaborate with other schools, even rural ones, more easily than before.

In Taiwan, we have observed this trend and have pioneered successful cross-school collaboration through the adoption of remote teaching. Through cross-collaboration, schools can share resources, teachers can exchange teaching experiences and expertise, and students can learn from more teachers and engage with the other students.

Among those pioneering projects, we will highlight two unique cases. The first is a two-school collaboration called the Urban and Rural Cloud Collaborative Education project which involved Taoyuan Da-Yeh Elementary School, which has more than 1,000 students, and Yunlin Shui-Dui Elementary School, which has only 60 students, for students to learn more about air pollution.

We worked with both schools to set up a digital teaching environment. More than adopting the interactive displays and digital teaching platform, we trained the teachers to use digital teaching tools and how to implement them in course design.

During the project, the teachers jointly prepared courses and then simultaneously delivered interactive classes between the two schools. The teachers also shared course materials via the cloud, allowing document access and knowledge sharing easier.

Students at both schools conducted experiments together, which improved engagement and interaction in class, making the courses more interesting. Through cross-school collaboration, the gap between urban and rural, small and large, resource rich and poor was successfully bridged.

Delivering innovative courses

The second success story was part of a collaboration between ViewSonic and National Kaohsiung Normal University (NKNU) to develop an innovative course by integrating maker education into remote teaching. Since 2020, ViewSonic has collaborated with NKNU and 10 local elementary and junior high schools to co-develop the maker courses.

The highlights of the demonstration courses include the DIY solar-powered cars course in which three schools collaborate, and the hand-launched gliders remote teaching course. The programme has increased the efficiency in collaborative lesson preparation and enhanced teaching quality.

For this project, classrooms were equipped with large, interactive displays with digital whiteboard solutions and cameras to allow for simultaneous in-person and remote teaching. The end result is that these courses improved engagement among both teachers and students, and greatly increased learning and teaching efficiency.

Utilising the right edtech solution

For remote teaching to truly work, though, educators must look beyond the hardware and the numerous solutions on the market. Edtech is not just about setting up hardware in a classroom. Instead, it goes beyond that to include new forms of instructional training and digital course design to create a complete edtech ecosystem.

By implementing an edtech solution, independent schools can stand out to parents. They can be innovative by developing and delivering non-traditional courses and allowing students to interact with classes in other schools, whether those schools are on the other side of town or in another country. This has the knock-on effect of allowing for educational equality for students in rural and remote areas who can now collaborate with students in non-remote schools.

Teachers will also gain experience in inter-school exchanges and can also prepare and teach easily via collaboration tool sets than what a traditional video call could allow for.